Get out there and do it! You’ll be left behind if you don’t. That’s all you seem to hear in reference to social media these days.
Whether you are a marketing strategist for your company or someone just looking to do something different with your business, social media can help you reach audiences you didn’t think possible (with very little monetary investment).
But it’s not enough to just sign up for a couple of vanity URLs and expect to be on your way. A social media plan involves more than just trying to remember the multitude of log-ins involved with your efforts.
Find your audience. Figure out who you are selling to (aka your demographic) and find out what social media platforms (if any) they are using.
Grow big ears. You’ve found your audience; you know where they are. Now take some time to listen to what they’re talking about. Assess their needs. Cyberspace needs/wants may be different than every day needs. Listen to their concerns. Listen to how your competitors are addressing these.
Shed your coat. Sure, an online audience can be quite large and it’s easy to believe that just being there will garner you countless fans/followers and sales. But those hordes are useless if you aren’t willing to bare a little something. Social media is about, after all, becoming more transparent. Show your consumers what it’s like to work for your company. Show them what makes you unique. Invite them into your world. Make it a place they want to be.
Welcome them home. Seems like most people spend just a few minutes deciding on one of the largest investments they’ll make in a lifetime – purchasing their home. They rely on the “it” factor. It just felt right. Cultivating a devoted following is much the same on your consumers’ ends. It takes a lot of work and dedication on your end but their choice to follow you, become a fan of yours or join your private community may come down to just feeling comfortable.
Play nicely. You’ve found your audience, they’ve joined your community, they like what you have to say, now make sure you act as the perfect host. Cyber memory is as close to permanent as can be. One off-color exchange can ruin your reputation online and off. Keep your comments and advice pleasant and helpful, even if the other side is not. Unless you are selling political wit or religious advice, keep topics inclusive and related to what you are selling (if even loosely). If you’re selling pizza there is no reason to alienate a customer because of your voting preferences, unless that is part of your appeal, again, know what market you want to reach. Maybe your store is called Neo-conservative Neopolitans, in which case political discourse is as much a part of the menu as the pizza.
Ultimately, you must make the decision of whether social media is something you want to invest the time and money in. But if you are waiting for it to go the way of the metric system in the U.S., you’re going to have a long wait. Social media is based on democracy and everyone’s opinion being expressed in a free and easily accessible way. Americans love that and it’s here to stay. You just have to figure out what part you want to play in this communication revolution.